On November 9, 2018, Judge Yvette Palazuelos ruled that the City of Santa Monica elections at-large voting system violated the California Voting Rights Act and intentionally discriminated against minorities in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the California Constitution.
At-large elections allow every person to vote, but do not ensure equal representation within each community. R. Rex Parris and Ellery Gordon of PARRIS, along with attorneys Kevin Shenkman and Milton Grimes, made it their mission to prove that Santa Monica’s at-large elections were intentionally designed to suppress the minority vote.
Throughout the trial, Parris and his team demonstrated the negative effects the at-large election system has had on the predominantly Latino residents of the Pico Neighborhood for over 60 years. Judge Palazuelos’ ruling provides these residents with the opportunity to have a voice on Santa Monica’s City Council.
Before Judge Palazuelos’ ruling, the City burdened the Pico Neighborhood with its most undesirable land uses. Not only is there a freeway running through the area, but it is also used as a dumping ground for environmental hazards such as the vehicle maintenance yard and trash sorting facility. Worst of all, the City has taken no action to remediate the methane being emitted from Gandara Park, which is a place where kids regularly play in sporting events.
The plaintiffs fought for the Pico Neighborhood to have equal representation on the Santa Monica City Council to ensure accountability for the City’s actions. This ruling will allow the residents of the Pico Neighborhood to finally be heard.